The future of Hillary, Veronica and Cindi has been laid in the hands of Worthington City Council.

The future of Hillary, Veronica and Cindi has been laid in the hands of Worthington City Council.

After council heard arguments on both sides of changing a city ordinance that bans backyard poultry farming on Jan. 20, council president Lou Goorey said council will take the issue under advisement.

"The girls" are the chickens owned by Andy Rozmiarek and his family, who live at 324 E. New England Ave. The three fowl live in the backyard, where they like to scurry about, killing bugs, playing with the Rozmiarek's one-year-old son and laying enough eggs to provide daily breakfast for the family and for friends and neighbors.

The Rozmiareks are not a farm family who lost their way. He is a physician who moved from Florida to central Ohio to do his residency at Ohio State University Hospital.

The chickens made the move with the family about a year ago. The yard birds, which the family consider to be pets, have adjusted to the cold by spending winter days inside a small coop warmed by heat lamps.

The Rozmiareks are part of a growing national chicken-raising trend, which is a natural extension of the interest in growing food locally.

So far, only the Rozmiareks and Kelly Provost of Tucker Drive keep chickens in their Worthington yards, but several other residents told council they would consider adopting chickens of their own if the city ordinance is changed.

David Mortman, 175 E. Selby Blvd., said he would like to have a few chickens. He said he recently moved to Worthington because it is a progressive community.

Not everyone considers it progressive to allow chickens to come home to roost in the city.

Julia Haager, 306 E. New England, said she is concerned about issues like the removal of waste products and health implications.

When Rozmiarek brought the chickens into the neighborhood, his attitude was "I like chickens, and you will too," she said.

"My question is, which came first, the chickens or the ordinance?" she asked.

David Johnson lives next door to the Rozmiareks, and he seemed less amused by the conversation before council.

A few months ago, Worthington police had to be called after his dog got loose and attacked one of the chickens. The chicken lived.

He said that representatives of an electric fence company said even the threat of an electric shock would not keep his dog from the chickens.

"Dogs are predators, chickens are prey," he said.

His other concerns include what might happen if the Avian flu pandemic hits this country, and the effect that chickens in the neighbor's yard might have on home values.

"They are not pets," Johnson said. "At the end of the day, chickens are a form of sustenance."

Provost said she agrees. She does not consider the fowl living in her yard to be pets.

"My chickens are a garden commodity, like tomato plants," she said. "They eat bugs, and I get breakfast every morning."

Her flock has been diminished lately, first by a dog that got into her yard from the nearby Olentangy bikeway, then by some hungry hawks.

After her backyard hens were the subject of a story in the Columbus Dispatch last August, she received a visit from the Worthington police.

It turns out that she can legally keep chickens in her yard because it meets the ordinance requirement that chickens be kept 150 feet from the nearest residence.

The law, passed in 1973, groups chickens with horses and cattle, prohibiting all from being kept "anywhere within the city within 150 feet of any residence, other than the residence of the person keeping such animals or fowl."

"Chickens really don't need that much space," Rozmiarek told council.

He is requesting that council simply remove "chickens" from the ordinance, and allow other ordinances that regulate the care of pets to also cover chickens.

Issues such as cleanliness and odor are covered in city ordinances that regulate domestic pets.

Ordinance 505.08a states that "No person shall keep or harbor any animal in the city so as to create offensive odors, excessive noise or unsanitary conditions which are a menace to the health, comfort or safety of the public."

That would cover most concerns about having chickens in the neighborhood, supporters believe.

Suzy Juarros, 671 Andover St., said she lives closest to the Rozmiareks' "three girls," and she has enjoyed having them. She remembers many years ago when the Bachelor family kept a horse in the neighborhood, which she also enjoyed.

"I like a little rural Americana in Worthington," she said.